Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Psychiatry is a Soft Science? What?

The following is a brief article I received this morning on the CES-NET listserv. I thought it was interesting as it discusses counseling and psychiatry and its purposes.

"Not all of life's myriad problems are psychiatric illnesses. Not all psychiatric disorders are 'chemical imbalance' or amenable to simply taking a pill. There is no shame in admitting that we still don't understand the causes of mental illness- the rest of medicine deals with much simpler organs, but the causes of most illnesses remain obscure. Although we have general outlines that are valuable in guiding treatment, each person is unique and each treatment regimen must be something of a trial an error experiment to custom fit the needs of the patient. If patient and psychiatrist work and think hard and put their hearts into it, something good usually happens.

Psychiatry does best when it sticks to doing what it does well. Let's treat the disorders we know how to treat in people who really need help. The greatest problem in the past fifteen years of psychiatry has been diagnostic inflation and the over treatment of people who really don't need it. This misallocates scarce resources away from those who do most desperately need and can most use our help. I fear DSM-5 because it threatens to further medicalize normality and spread psychiatry too thin."

This was written by Dr. Allen Frances, chair of the DSM-IV Task Force. He sounds rather like a counselor.

The full article is at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201109/why-psychiatry-is-wonderful